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Ed note: Just before this posting Facebook announced that it was  removing pages, groups and Instagram QAnon accounts considering a variety of identifying factors including names, bios and “about” sections. But the group is still getting its messaging out there in a myriad of ways. Here, Op-Ed writer and activist Roy Jurgens provides everything you need to know about the conspiracy group, its origins, its mission and its followers.

Odds are you’ve been exposed to it by now. Despite all the mask wearing and stay at homing and social distancing, you’ve likely had contact with the viral nature of it. It may have come via a relative you can’t bear speaking to any longer, or that level-headed friend you’d never imagine would catch such a thing. Perhaps it’s hit home and you’ve had to sequester yourself from your significant other, who is lost in a feverish spell of delusional rantings, or  -dear God- by some gross misfortune it has sunken its clammy claws into your very own cerebral cortex.

No, I’m not speaking of the dreaded coronavirus, but of something equally noxious and far more stupid, something known as QAnon.

Yes, reports are coming in across the land with alarming frequency: innocent victims being accosted by their near and dear, who have lost all ability to think rationally or critically. Bless your ignorantly blissful heart if you’ve been spared the foaming at the mouth, wild-eyed ramblings of a true believing follower of Q.

Should you wish to remain pure, stop reading right now and head for an isolated cave (with no WIFI). Stay there until at least next February, because things are only going to get much, much worse.

You see, most conspiracy theories have at least that one kernel of truth before spinning drunkenly outside the bounds of rationality. But we are living in a post-fact world, where politicians and pundits and self-anointed street crazies just fire darts at opponents like inebriated howler monkeys in an unlit room. It doesn’t matter what they hit, or if they hit accurately, as long as they hit.

Thus you have the following brilliant affirmations: Joe Biden (a centrist Democrat) is socialist, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (a Social Democrat) is a Marxist, Antifa (anti-fascists) are fascists, white supremacist militia (confederate flag waving racists) are patriots, George Soros (a Jew) is a Nazi, and Native Americans (who are native Americans on native land) are told to “go back where they came from.”

Yeah, and from there it gets weirder. QAnon supporters will tell you with breathtaking sincerity that the world is under the thumb of Hollywood elites, “deep state” political operatives, and yes, of course, the Jews. These nefarious vampires are involved in agriculture, farming mole children in underground caves, where they render them of their adrenochrome, a magical elixir which somehow staves off aging.

One would have thought these sorts of batshit beliefs ended around 300 years ago, but no, this is the backstory Q went with to persuade the intellectually brittle that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are Satanists involved in a global pedophilia ring, and that President Trump is the only one who can stop them.

Yes Trump, along with his own personal army of loyalists (led by a very dead JFK Jr., 1960-1999) are working in secret to loosen the grip of the elites to hasten what is known as “The Storm,” where Tom Hanks, Oprah, Katy Perry, Will Smith, Ellen Degeneres, etc. will be rounded up and jailed, thereby bringing the great reset. This all culminates with a military dictatorship and a never-ending utopia. Because of course, history tells us that military dictatorships led by men the likes of Donald Trump usually end well.

Those “Save the children,” “Save our children” hashtags you’ve been seeing on social media may have been well meaning initially, but most have nothing to do with actually saving any children. What they are is QAnon hiding in plain sight, a gateway drug attempting to put forth a respectable face upon an effort to gain more followers.

What they truly are is a group attempting to validate their anxieties by inventing parables. It is about a change in the social order, where a white patriarchal society fears the loss of traditional gender roles and the family unit. It is about women gaining power, gay and trans people gaining mainstream acceptance, about a social justice agenda demanding equal rights for black and brown people. In defense and denial of these things, QAnon used baby rape in order to demonize these groups in the most odious way possible. Nothing sells hatred and terror like a story about outsiders are coming for your children. It is a tale older than the bible.

Now I’d like to say something akin to “only in America,” but I’d be mistaken. WWG1WGA and Q signs are popping up across the globe, wherever groups of people are protesting the supposed violations of their “freedumbs.”

(Wiki Commons/Marc Nozell)

In a normal country, with a normal leader, such nonsense would be immediately ridiculed and condemned. But the United States is no longer normal, and Trump is only too happy to fan the flames of hatred for these whackadoodles. Yes, an adult man with his finger on the nuclear trigger tweeted and retweeted hot QAnon trash 216 times up until August 20th, according to Media Matters. He’s done this despite the FBI flagging the movement as a potential domestic terror threat. The United States Military Academy at West Point has deemed the movement dangerous as well.

But the President proudly exclaims, “These are people that love our country.” This is his jam. Need I remind you that Trump was a proponent of the provably false conspiracy theory that former president Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. I may regret saying this, but Trump is no idiot. He is venal enough to have a keen understanding of exactly what he is doing. He’s motivating his base by stoking stochastic terror.

What is stochastic terror you ask? Well, it’s when one uses mass public communication (such as Twitter) in order to demonize a particular individual or group, which incites or inspires acts of terrorism which are statistically probable but happen seemingly at random. See, Trump just drops little hints here and there, the kind of hints that inspire a heavily armed misguided teenager to have his mommy drive him to Kenosha so that he can murder libtards. It’s the perfect weapon, and it gives the person committing stochastic terror plausible deniability.

Do you recall when Trump screamed about hordes of filthy illegals storming the Southern border in 2018. How could he have known that would inspire someone to commit a hate crime against Hispanics, killing 22 people in an El Paso Walmart a year ago? How could he have known that tweeting “FREE MICHIGAN” would lead armed white militia to storm the state capital demanding their freedom? Yeah, he knew.

He also knew that he could not denounce white supremacists during last Tuesday’s debate as he’d risk losing their votes. Instead, he opted to give them a vague shout-out, which was met with welcoming ears. There is much cross-pollinating going on among the various pro-Trump rabble- QAnon, Proud Boys, white militia groups, they are all part of the same soup sandwich dedicated to fomenting hate, falsehoods and fear. They all squawk about protecting freedoms, while working earnestly to deny that freedom to others. They scan the bowels of Twitter, looking for any words of approval from Trump and his administration, and the president seems all too happy to oblige them. Debate moderator Chris Wallace did the nation a major disservice by not asking Trump if it was true that he thought Hillary Clinton sucked the blood out of babies.

If the shameful debate display wasn’t enough, last Thursday’s announcement that Trump and the first lady had contracted coronavirus brought forth a whole new slew of brain seizures. On one hand you have the QAnon folks who deny that COVID-19 is a thing. To them this is Trump playing more of his three-dimensional chess. See, this diagnosis is all a ruse, to keep him safe from the “deep staters” once the “storm” commences and the mass arrests of the global satanic pedophile ring begins. It’s all there in his tweet from Thursday night… “We will get through this TOGETHER!” He said “together” … to get herCan’t you see it? Hillary is finally going to be arrested!

Other Q simpletons, believe that Trump truly has the virus, but he will take hydroxychloroquine, a drug he’s been shilling for despite the FDA’s warning of serious side effects, and because of it, he will reemerge like an orange phoenix. Or perhaps he’ll inject Clorox or shove a light bulb up his ass and makes fools of us after all! Of course, the truth is he got top notch medical care and experimental steroid treatments- things that 200,000 now-dead American’s did not.

There’s more- many conspiracists are convinced the Left has purposely infected Trump. Former congressional candidate and glassy eyed true Q believer DeAnna Lorraine even suggested that the Dems engaged in biowarfare during Tuesday’s debate! “I’m just going to say what we’re all thinking,” Lorraine tweeted,” Trump was fine until the debate, where they set up microphones & podiums for him. Incubation period is usually 2-3 days. He tests positive a couple of days after the debate. I put nothing past the left. NOTHING.” That’s right DeAnna, a Marxist BLM Antifa soldier had secretly infiltrated the sound crew at the debate and they put ‘Rona slobber on Don’s mic.

Regardless of how this turns out, it will feed the fires of lunacy. Trump survives and it proves his virility, that COVID-19 is indeed a scam and therefore he should be king. If he were to die, they would see this as nothing less than an assassination. JFK conspiracies would be mere child’s play in comparison.

QAnon has become such a force that it has now affected the left, who much like an abused spouse, gaslit into a state of submission, no longer believes in anything either. To many, this is Trump’s October surprise, his way of attaining sympathy, his Hail Mary pass at game’s end. Writer Producer David Simon (The Wire, Treme, Deuce) captured that feeling perfectly with his tweet, “Honestly, when a man lies so damn much, am I wrong to imagine another cry of wolf for an October surprise? That Trump is claiming a positive test, will present as asymptomatic, or claim himself cured with bleach, then dismiss COVID again as a Democratic hoax? I’m wrong, right?”

It’s not as if anyone who doubted the diagnosis wasn’t justified. The man is already downplaying Covid as he (seemingly) gets better and Cornell University just released a study stating that Trump is the world’s single most important driver of coronavirus misinformation. This is what happens when liars lie, and those lies find stalwart believers. Remember when White House advisor Kellyanne Conway spoke of “alternative facts on the second day of Trump’s presidency?” Well, here we are.

Is it any wonder then, that reality and facts have flown out the window and everyone across the political spectrum is either pursuing or believing false narratives because they are befuddled, anxious, and feel they can no longer trust anything? That is one of the great features of fledgling dictatorships, the erosion of fact and the embrace of fiction. As George Orwell wrote famously in 1984, “in the end, the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it.”

The QAnon rot is so popular that it is being openly peddled by several GOP politicians. Let’s be honest, the American political landscape has always had its share of kooks, but they were by and large ridiculed and dismissed. Not anymore, as Georgia GOP congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene has told several tall tales of the QAnon ilk, you know, the usual baby eating, Nancy Pelosi deserves the death penalty, Killary has a hit list, school shootings are “false flag” events, etc. And even better, barring some sort of electoral miracle, Taylor will be stalking the halls of Congress next year. Trump has gone so far as to anoint her a “Future Republican Star.”

(Wiki Commons/Marc Nozell)

The political angle is undoubtedly dangerous, as QAnon supporters, many backed by Russian intel ops, continue to engage in information warfare, spreading their falsehoods in the hope of impacting November’s election. But QAnon isn’t just about baby eating; the movement also has a heavy presence in spreading falsehoods about Covid-19. There is a whole grab bag of insanity for your reading pleasure. In case you haven’t heard, the most unlikely Bond villain of all time, Bill Gates, is planning a covert mass chip implantation under the pretext of a mandatory vaccination. You’ve got lunatics setting 5G towers on fire. You’ve got a doctor who believes in demon semen being quoted by Trump. You’ve got easily debunked rubbish such as Plandemic, the Bakersfield docs, and anti-vaxxer Dr. Rashid Buttar, all of whom have enjoyed their brief moment of infamy.

Yes folks, we are living in gaslight nation, where the Q loons will tell you that Covid-19 was concocted in a laboratory specifically to kill the elites, the pedophiles, the elite pedophiles, and most of all, the interdimensional demonic pedophiles (no I didn’t just make that up). But it’s also a hoax? How can it be both? Also, they might want to double check the lab formula because it looks liked it wiped out 200,000 innocent Americans instead, with many more to come, including a mounting list of the very unmasked superspreader Republicans they claim are the good guys.

These conspiracy theories have roared through social media like a forest fire lit by Antifa (Antifa doesn’t light forest fires). YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have waged a furious campaign of whack-a-mole in an attempt to police and eliminate what they consider to be fake news, raising valid concerns about censorship. And yet, up from the depths, the internet always finds a way to perpetuate falsehoods. For those interested in slogging around in a septic tank of deep idiocy and rabble rousing, I present you with Bitchute. Visit at your own risk (you’ll want to shower afterwards).

So how did this insanity all begin anyway? QAnon can be traced back to late 2017 when someone by the name of “Q Clearance Patriot” began posting cryptic messages (Q drops) upon the online cesspool known as 4chan. The Q moniker was no mistake, intending to refer to a high-level clearance held within the Department of Energy, you know, the one with the nukes. The movement soon bled into bottom feeders 8chan and 8kun, and then finally into mainstream.

However, if you go down the rabbit hole a little deeper, you’ll find an all too familiar story that has been rotting away in a murky swamp since 1902. Back then it was branded The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”  Written by Russian anti-Jewish propagandists, it told a tale of global dominion, where Jews stole Christian children, slaughtered them and drained their blood into the matzos dough.

Yes, QAnon is a Nazi cult, fighting that fabled secret cabal run by Jews who control the government, banks, media, and entertainment. The Jews and liberals and blacks and Mexicans are coming after your white women, your churches and your police. They are homosexuals and perverts and pedophiles and murderers and rapists. They must be stopped. These tired anti-Semitic and racist tropes have been around for, well, thousands of years.

There’s an evangelical aspect to all this too. Followers are encouraged to bring in converts via a process called “red pilling,” which references The Matrix films, where Morpheus gives Neo the choice between the red pill, which reveals the truth, or the blue pill, which will keep him blinded from it. Yes, this is the high level of philosophical discourse that can be found among folks who think Beyoncé eats infants.

The more you push against these conspiracy theories, the more intensely radicalized and violent they become. The movement has already led to multiple incidents of downright craziness, from a woman storming a Navy Pier in New York City in order to “rescue” the children held on a hospital ship (there were no children), to a man using an armored vehicle to create a standoff at the Hoover Dam, to an engineer who derailed his train in an attempt to hit the USS Mercy in San Pedro. And yet District Attorney William Barr keeps bellowing on about BLM and Antifa, all the while ignoring an apocalyptic death cult his own intel agency has deemed a dire threat to national security.

It’s difficult to suppress the urge to ridicule those who believe in such drivel, but like most everything, there are scientific explanations for such behavior. Conspiracy theories get their genesis from something known as illusory pattern perception- a phenomenon that commonly afflicts the deeply frightened. The brain, a complex organ intended to be on high alert, will conjure up nonexistent patterns as a coping mechanism, attempting to connect dots that simply aren’t there. Anxiety, loss of control, suspicion, and mistrust drive people into believing the unbelievable. Unfortunately, times of great stress and strife cause this affliction to scream louder.

The QAnon movement has all the hallmarks of a religious cult, the leader is infallible and cannot be questioned. Followers have purpose and feel like they are part of a greater plan. Lonely, fearful, and perhaps a bit dim people are perfect marks for this. Even more alluring, the sense of comraderie the Q set enjoy from engaging in their addictive cosplay. It fills their otherwise uneventful lives with a cause, where they get to step outside of reason and play digital superhero, engaging in daily battles with the enemies warring in their heads and on the internet. There is a certain narcissism that traps these victims, where their self-conjured fantasy world is easier to relate to than the truth.

Of course, this is why engaging with these followers becomes so enraging. You’d think that a simple fact-based argument is all one would need to dispel the madness. You’d be mistaken. Conspiracy theorists aren’t receptive to facts because conspiracy theories aren’t based upon them, and pushing against them only further reinforces the raw emotions that birthed the batshittery in the first place. Any facts you present are just turned inside out and used to further verify their position. The Apophenia is thick with these folks.

Now before you snicker too much or feel too superior, understand that nearly 50% of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy. One could even argue that religion is a conspiracy theory, but we’ll leave that fight for another day. Don’t feel quite so superior now, do you?